UT Southwestern's new University Hospital to open in 2015

In a special onsite ceremony today, the hopes and aspirations of 1,000 employees, donors and community supporters were poured into the foundation of UT Southwestern Medical Center's new University Hospital, an $800 million state-of-the-art facility slated to open in 2015.

The foundation-laying event commemorates a key milestone for the new hospital's construction, which began in March with site preparation. The 12-floor, 460-room facility is an essential step in UT Southwestern's plan to become one of the nation's top 10 comprehensive academic medical centers.

"The innovative new hospital is meticulously designed around the total needs of patients and their families," said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, president of UT Southwestern. "It represents the forefront of design for hospitals of the future, integrating best practices gathered from the nation's top medical facilities with the innovation and high standards of research and education that the medical center is known for around the world."

During the ceremony, Dr. Podolsky shared some of the hopes and visions of employees and supporters with an audience of about 200 at the new 32-acre site on the southwest side of Harry Hines Boulevard between Mockingbird Lane and Inwood Road. The audience included several elected officials, community leaders, UT System Regents and supporters of the medical center who have helped launch the capital campaign for the new facility.

Speakers included Pauline Medrano, Dallas Mayor Pro Tem; Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, chancellor of the UT System and 1983 graduate of UT Southwestern Medical School; William T. Solomon, chairman of the board of Southwestern Medical Foundation; Ron W. Haddock, foundation trustee and chairman of the Board of Visitors for UT Southwestern University Hospitals & Clinics; and Dr. Bruce A. Meyer, executive vice president for health system affairs at UT Southwestern. Mr. Solomon also serves as steering committee chairman for the new hospital campaign, Building the Future of Medicine, and Mr. Haddock is a member of the campaign's steering committee.

"Every element of the new hospital's architecture, from operating and procedure rooms to patient rooms, has been designed to ensure a collaborative approach to each patient's care," noted Dr. John Warner, assistant vice president for university hospital planning and associate professor of internal medicine. "And state-of-the-art technology throughout the facility will enhance communication and information sharing between various members of a patient's care team."

UT Southwestern sent journal cards to more than 10,000 employees and community supporters weeks prior to the ceremony, inviting them to write their aspirations for the hospital's future. The original cards - a sampling of which Dr. Podolsky read at the ceremony - were poured into a cement block that will become part of the new hospital.

A journal card from Katherine Spinks, an administrative assistant with Chaplain and Volunteer Services, read: "May this building be a blessing to those who will pass through its portals. May it be a beacon of hope and healing for future generations, and may we have laid a firm foundation, not just in stone, but in education, research and progressive healing science that is a foundation for those who follow."

Curtis White, a senior buyer in the Physical Plant who has been with UT Southwestern for nearly seven years, wrote, the new hospital is "in recognition of the men and women who every day do small things in a great way to improve the health of patients and advance the science of medicine."

The new University Hospital will feature innovations that include:

•460 all-private patient rooms to accommodate family and friends overnight with an array of amenities designed to reflect the comforts of home;
•Office and support space for clinical researchers who will work to translate scientific discoveries into new treatments for patients;
•An integrated electronic health records system and collaborative design of the hospital that will bolster patient safety efforts through seamless transfer of information between all members of a patient's care team;
•Robotics in the operating rooms that will allow for highly precise and minimally invasive procedures;
•An onsite education center to allow family members and patients to learn all about diseases, treatments, protocols and other aspects of care at their own pace and leisure; and
•In-room monitors that will allow patients and their caregivers to review charts and images such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, while in-room video-conferencing will enable patients to communicate virtually with members of their care team or family and friends.

The hospital - designed by architectural firm RTKL Associates and being built by the Hunt Construction Group - will replace University Hospital - St. Paul, which opened in 1963 and cannot be expanded to handle growing capacity needs or economically renovated to incorporate the state-of-the-art technology required to practice the medicine of the future. University Hospital - St. Paul will remain fully operational until the new 1.31-million-square-foot facility opens. The $800 million cost for construction and completion of the new hospital will be financed through a combination of bond sales, clinical revenues and philanthropy. No state or other public funds will be used to support this project.

The goal of UT Southwestern's Building the Future of Medicine campaign is to raise $200 million in private funds for the new University Hospital. To date, supporters have generously contributed nearly $62 million. In addition, the UT Southwestern physicians have committed $200 million of their clinical earnings to support the project.


UT Southwestern Medical Center


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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